Facebook suspends accounts engaged in 'inauthentic' political activity

Social media site Facebook said on Tuesday that it removed 32 pages from its platforms that violated the company’s policies against “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

Some accounts had connections to the Internet Research Agency (IRA) – the Russian-based group that interfered with the 2016 presidential election.

“Some of the activity from these accounts and activity was consistent with what we’ve seen [from] the IRA,” Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy at Facebook, said Tuesday on a call with reporters, adding that some were even connected with known IRA accounts.

The company said it suspended the pages because it does not want people creating networks of accounts to mislead other users about who they are or what they’re doing.

Facebook released the information on Tuesday because one of the suspended users – a previously identified IRA account – was listed as a co-administrator on an event scheduled next week in D.C., to protest a “Unite the Right” event. Facebook canceled the counter-march and notified the other administrators about the activity. The canceled event was called “No Unite the Right 2.” Unite the Right was a far-right rally that included Nazis and white nationalists.

The dates for 30 other events created by the banned users had already passed, but the company said it was not yet in a position to give color on the content.

Facebook executives said they did not have enough technical evidence to link the activity to any specific group at this time.

“It’s clear that whoever set up these accounts went to much greater lengths to obscure their true identities than the Russian-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) has in the [run up to the 2016 presidential election],” the company said in a statement.

Facebook stopped short of linking the activity directly to the 2018 midterms, saying instead that it expected “to find activity focused on the midterms as our investigations continue.”

While this particular investigation is still in its early stages, Facebook said it is sharing information with U.S. law enforcement.